DVD Review by Kam Williams
Headline: Romantic Romp from Woody Allen Arrives on DVD
This delightful romantic comedy from Woody Allen is easily on par with the best of the legendary director’s battle-of-the-sexes classics made back during the prime of his career. Now well into his seventies, Allen opted to stay behind the camera here, relying on Javier Bardem to fill his familiar role as the highly-neurotic leading man in the midst of a relationship crisis.
The film revolves around a messy love quadrangle, no pentangle, which unfolds against a variety of visually-bracing Barcelona backdrops. At the point of departure we’re introduced to Vicky (Rebecca Hall) and Cristina (Scarlett Johansson), a couple of American tourists in town for the summer.
Conventional Vicky is engaged to Doug (Chris Messina), a reliable provider she already finds a bit boring. Relatively-irresponsible Cristina, on the other hand, is an adventurous free-spirit more interested in finding passion than commitment. So, it’s no surprise that they have diametrically-opposed initial reactions upon being approached by Juan Antonio (Bardem), a local artist and notorious womanizer, who propositions them simultaneously, suggesting that they both might like to share his bed at the end of the evening.
While Vicky reflexively recoils in disgust at the explicit overture, Cristina is flattered and finds herself attracted to all the drama surrounding the Latin bad boy, especially since he’d once been stabbed by his unstable ex-wife, the hot-headed Maria Elena (Penelope Cruz).
Surprisingly, it is Vicky who sleeps with Juan Antonio first, though Cristina soon follows suit, and even shacks up with him when their torrid affair takes off.
The plot thickens when crazy Maria Elena shows up unannounced, suicidal and desperately in need of a place to stay. Juan Antonio still has a weak spot for his ex, and lets her move in, too. It’s easy to imagine the sort of hilarious hijinks Woody Allen might script for a trio of frustrated females vying for the attentions and affections of a hapless hunk whose trying to please all three at once. And just when you think the situation couldn’t possibly get any more complicated, fifth wheel Doug decides to fly to Spain to see his fiancée.
Featuring sublime support performances by Patricia Clarkson and Kevin Dunn, Vicky Cristina Barcelona is vintage Woody Allen not to be missed. For it’s not merely a madcap misadventure, but also a thought-provoking cautionary tale juxtaposing blind adherence to American Puritanical values against some more open-minded alternative ways of relating.
Excellent (4 stars)
Rated PG-13 for sexuality, smoking and mature themes.
In Catalan, English and Spanish with subtitles
Running time: 96 minutes
Studio: The Weinstein Company
DVD Extras: None
To see a trailer of Vicky Cristina Barcelona, visit:
Friday, January 9, 2009
DVD Review by Kam Williams